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Spanovic shows her best is always saved to last

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As she stood on the podium in Moscow last summer at the IAAF World Championships, Serbian long jumper Ivana Spanovic had not just won a bronze medal. She had broken the national record and had her put herself among the most famous sportsmen and women her country has produced.

Nine months on, and her status grows even more.

The record then was 6.82m. Two weeks ago in Shanghai she increased it to 6.85m and now it has gone up again after another brilliant performance on the Diamond League stage at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on Friday evening.

This third meeting of the series is split into two parts, with distance races and selected field events on the first day and a larger programme on Saturday.

But there will be no doubt that Spanovic is one of the stars of the weekend after winning the long jump on countback from Russia’s Darya Klishina with a final round 6.88m.

Another rewrite for the national record, but more importantly the key element of what any athlete looks for - progress.

By the time of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich, a year would have passed since Moscow and everything is pointing towards Spanovic, 24, being an outstanding gold medal hope because she has taken her career up another notch.

A chart of her life as an athlete makes impressive reading in the way it has maintained its consistency on the podium.

After winning silver at the European Athletics Under-23 Championships in Ostrava in 2011, Spanovic now has two major senior bronze medals, from Moscow and then Sopot in March, at the World Indoor Championships.

As a teenager, she was World Junior champion and European Athletics junior silver medallist, and the statement she keeps making now is that she can be at her best when many think all her energy might have been sapped.

In Moscow, she secured her place in the final with her last jump in qualifying and then won bronze with her fifth round effort; it was no different in Sopot when her longest distance was her sixth round jump of 6.77m.

Her rivals in Eugene were probably not too surprised when she took to the runway for the last round on Friday to see it end with her in first place.

Klishina had led with 6.88m from round three ahead of France’s Eloyse Lesueur, the Sopot gold medallist, a centimetre behind, with Spanovic’s best being 6.86m from the fourth round, the same distance as America’s Brittney Reese, the Moscow champion.

But then Spanovic produced her superb 6.88m to leap into the lead on countback: she had previously jumped 6.77m, 6.75m, 6.62m, 6.86m and 6.77m compared to Klishina’s 6.74m, foul, 6.88m, foul, 6.81m and 6.67m.

Both women share top spot in the World rankings but it is the Serbian who leads the Diamond Race from Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare who had beaten her into first place in Shanghai.

That was a fortnight ago. Okagbare was not in Eugene. Next stop for the event is Oslo on June 11 and the way her summer is changing, Spanovic might have taken that national record even further.